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Europe set to fly higher still

Successful meeting of the ESA Council in Paris yesterday: the Member States of the European Space Agency have agreed to release the funds needed to put Ariane 5 back on track and actively prepare the development of future launchers.

Moreover, cooperation with Russia in the field of launchers is now a reality through an agreement that provides the framework for the Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre programme - with Soyuz launchers operated by Arianespace as of 2006 - and joint activities in the field of future launchers. The decisions taken unanimously by the ESA Member States yesterday consolidate, now and for the longer term, Europe's access to space, enhancing its ability to meet the needs of its citizens. Europe can now count on a strong and stable launcher sector while it works towards a new generation of launchers. Following yesterday's agreement, Europes commercial launch operator, Arianespace, is equipped to sustain Europes guaranteed access to space while competing on the global launch service markets. "Europe can today fly high: we have a launcher which is highly appreciated worldwide and the preparation of future developments is now a reality said ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain. And when, in 2006, Soyuz lifts off from Europes spaceport in Kourou (French Guiana) we will have reached with our Russian partner another important milestone for Europe in space. Once more, when Europe's future is on the line, the Member States are able to find the energy to overcome the difficulties, coming up with the right solutions at the right time, he added. For further information, please contact : Franco Bonacina, ,ESA Media Relations Division ,Tel: +33(0),Fax: +33(0)